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Mont-Saint-Michel and Chartres Paperback – October 11, 2013

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 308 pages
  • Publisher: CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform (October 11, 2013)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1470080788
  • ISBN-13: 978-1470080785
  • Product Dimensions: 10 x 8 x 0.7 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.7 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (24 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,710,886 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews


Extended essay by Henry Adams, printed privately in 1904 and commercially in 1913. It is subtitled A Study of Thirteenth-Century Unity. Mont-Saint-Michel and Chartres is best considered a companion to the author's autobiography, The Education of Henry Adams (1918). In Chartres, he described the medieval world view as reflected in its cathedrals, which he believed expressed "an emotion, the deepest man ever felt--the struggle of his own littleness to grasp the infinite." Adams was drawn to the ideological unity expressed in Roman Catholicism and symbolized by the Virgin Mary; he contrasted this coherence with the uncertainties of the 20th century. -- The Merriam-Webster Encyclopedia of Literature --This text refers to an alternate Paperback edition.

From the Inside Flap

"Mont-Saint-Michel and Chartres is undoubtedly Adams's greatest work; though not apparently related to his earlier writings, this inspired work of poetry is the crowning achievement of his severe and somber historical oeuvre."--Maurice le Breton

"Emerson discussed man's need to discover a system of unity for his age; Henry Adams did the same for an age when the conflict was infinitely more acute and the solution less apparently obvious."--Robert Spiller

"One has the feeling that during the process of writing, the book grew way beyond its original plan and intention to be the informal travel talk of an art tourist, or an art-uncle for nieces with Kodaks. At a certain point it almost ceases to deal with esthetic experiences and becomes a confession of a seeker after unity, of a pilgrim who hopes to find in the Middle Ages an emotional repose-peace-Nirvana."--Ernst Scheyer, The Circle of Henry Adams

--This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Customer Reviews

It did not include referenced pictures nor a table of contents.
Jim D.
The book deals with complex ideas and views in an attractive literary style which holds the readers' interest.
James E. Egolf
It's been forty some years since I first read Mont Saint Michel and Chartres and this is still the best.
Christopher Barker

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

76 of 77 people found the following review helpful By J. Hale on March 1, 2000
Format: Paperback
Twenty years ago, I first read this book and was driven by Adams' compelling study of these two cathedrals to spend a decade studying Medieval and Renaissance literature. Adams at times finds his enthusiasm for his subjects embarrassing, but gives in to it nevertheless and writes a brilliant and joyous paean to these cathedrals and to the spirit that created them. Rereading this book now, twenty years later, I remember the thrill of reading it the first time, and it sparks my own enthusiasm all over again.
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63 of 63 people found the following review helpful By Kerry Walters VINE VOICE on March 23, 2002
Format: Paperback
A reading of Richard Brookhiser's recent (and highly recommended) *America's First Dynasty* sent me back to *Mont Saint Michel and Chartres*, a book I hadn't read in thirty years. I'm glad I returned to it, because a few years have, I trust, put me in a better position to appreciate what's going on in the book.
On one level, the most obvious one, Adam's book is a sometimes idiosyncratic history of Medieval art, literature, and religion that takes as its center of gravity the great Gothic cathedrals of the period--structures that Adams thinks sum up what the middle ages are all about. To read the book on this level alone is fine. It provides intriguing insights into, for example, courtly love and the cult of Mary.
But I now believe that, at a deeper level, the book is disguised autobiography on the one hand and a backhanded history of Adams's own time on the other. An at times overwhelming sense of nostalgia permeates the book. In reading Adams on the 11th century mystics, the debates of the schoolmen, the chansons of the troubadours, and the unified worldview of the middle ages, one can almost hear him sigh with longing to return to a world which, he thinks, was whole, unfractured, and pure--a world, as the medievals themselves would've said, which reflects "integritas." This reveals a great deal about the restless, unquiet nature of Henry Adams the man. But it also reveals the restless, unquiet nature of the modern era which spawned and molded him: the gilded age, the fast-paced first wave of capitalism, secularism, and consumerism, which has no center of gravity, no art, no tradition.
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39 of 39 people found the following review helpful By James E. Egolf VINE VOICE on December 29, 2005
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Henry Adams' MONT SAINT MICHEL AND CHARTRES (MSMC) is simply a great book. Adams' lucid writing style and his insights are impressive, and this book should be read by every supposedly "educated" individual. Adams deals with complex topics such as Gothic Architecture, Medieval poetry and mysticsim, and Scholastic Philosophy with clarity and ease.

The early sections of MSMC compare the church of Mont Saint Michel with the Catholic view of St. Michel who was militant and was the perfect example of the Medieval hero defending the Catholic Church against all enemies. The comparison with this church with that of Chartres which was the examplar of God's mercy via St. Mary is insighful and facinating reading.

Such embellishment of St. Mary or Notre Dame(Our Lady)is further investigated in Adams book by Adams' careful treatment of Medieval Poetry. Adams's translations of Medieval French and Latin are good and give those who are not familiar with these languages a better understanding of both the poetry and the Medieval devotion to St. Mary.

Much of this peotry was mystical, and Adams demonstrates the attempt of St. Francis and the Franciscans to use such mystical thought in their missionary efforts to help the very poor. St. Francis' mysticism is revealed in Adams' translation of St. Francis' poem titled BROTHER SUN AND SISTER MOON.

Henry Adams then compares and contrasts Medieveal mysticism, which bordered on Pantheism, with Scholastic Philosophy. Adams gives the reader an insight to scholastic debate when he summarizes the debate between William of Champaux and Peter Abelard(1079-1142). Here Adams demonstrates his understanding of how students and masters argued and learned.
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37 of 39 people found the following review helpful By D. Cloyce Smith on October 1, 2003
Format: Paperback
Privately printed in 1904 (and revised seven years later), "Mont Saint Michel and Chartres" was never meant for the general public. It's the intellectual's ultimate "what I did on my summer vacation" essay, written for friends as a gift to accompany their excursions through France. The first half is a highly personal travel book and an idiosyncratic guide to art and architecture of medieval French cathedrals (particularly of Chartres); the last six chapters offer a succinct excursion through the spiritual mindset of the twelfth and thirteenth centuries.
If you've never been to Mont Saint Michel or to Chartres, the first ten chapters can be hard going; it's like reading a 250-page description of a painting you've never seen. Even if you have been to both locations, it's unlikely you'll remember the details Adams expected his readers to have in front of them. Fortunately, his prose is not dry (and is at times characteristically witty). Adams is able to render vividly the fleches, the portals, the arches, the statues, and the stained glass panels, and he provides the tourist with a thorough understanding of the achievement represented by medieval religious art. He also supplies as background a wealth of related literary and historical references .
The tenth chapter (and the last of Adams's official "tour") focuses less on the cathedral of Chartres itself and more on the cult of the Virgin that it represents. It serves as a segue to the second half of the book, which will be far more accessible to general readers.
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